Category Archives: awareness

The Importance of Simple Pleasures

Like many people I know, over the last month I have felt emotionally inundated with one shocking headline story after another. My sympathetic nervous system felt under attack, and I needed to do something about it. It’s the old “oxygen mask” rule of taking care of yourself before assisting others, because otherwise, you’re no good to anyone.

So, one day, I decided to snap a pic of my silly face enjoying some olives… because they made me so happy! They were a new discovery at my local grocery store, and they were DELICIOUS!! So, I took a picture. Then another, and I found myself laughing and smiling and, most importantly, emotionally lifted. I shared it with friends, and they, too, smiled at my goofiness. I hashtagged it #simplepleasures and didn’t think about it again.

Original Post: With everything going on in the world it’s SO IMPORTANT to find little joys. And today, I did! My local grocery store has THE BEST olives!! #simplepleasuresmakelifebetter #iloveagoodolive

Then, a couple of days later, another small thing made me wonderfully happy: A new pair of fun earrings, and I thought: Hmm…. there’s something here. So I wrote another post, played around with a fun new photo app, and shared it.

Original Post: Remember my post about simple pleasures making life better (or some days, just bearable)? Well, the other day it was olives… whereas tonight it’s shiny new baubles!! What do we think?! I LOVE them! They’re like glistening mandala ornaments for my ears. <3

And with that, I started doing a daily #simplepleasures post for about a week just to see what would happen. What I noticed was that I was pausing more and taking better note of my daily life. I watched insects crawl and fly around on flowers, I listened to rain on the roof at night, and I sipped my tea more consciously, rather than guzzling down the morning caffeine.

While the world continued to spiral all around me, I felt more grounded and better able to remain emotionally-balanced. Subsequently, I also felt more more discerning about where I focused my energy and time. And that’s what’s important here: we have to be discerning about where we focus our attention.

With everything vying for some piece of our time or focus, it’s increasingly more and more important to be thoughtful and deliberate about how we move through our days. While our news stations seem to primarily focus on the “bad” things that are happening (see my “PS” below), it becomes increasingly more important for us to take pause in our lives and identify the good things. An awareness practice, like #simplepleasures, is a perfect example of how to do this.

Here are the rest of my week’s posts using the #simplepleasures hashtag. I invite you to try this out for yourself. Make a game out of it with friends and family. It doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the “bad” that’s going on in the world; it means that you’re choosing to keep yourself healthy, grounded and balanced, in order to be able to create positive change with more energy and focus. That’s a win-win, in my book.

(PS: Seriously though, if you’re not sure what I’m talking about with needing to be more discerning about watching the news, try this: try not actively watching the news and instead sit in a room nearby listening in order to count the number of “bad” things they share as compared to the “good” things. I’ve done this. It’s even worse than you might imagine.)

 

Sour Grapes Make Bad Wine

Sour Grapes Quote

I was talking with a friend the other day, and we were both sharing similar stories of what happened when we had announced something successful in our lives. The common denominator after each announcement? We both “lost” followers/friends on online platforms.

*sigh*

Why do we do this? It takes a certain amount of thought and a deliberate action to “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone, and when it’s done in response to that person sharing some happy news, it simply causes me to shake my head in wonder.

But we’re human, right? We feel things and we get reactionary. I know I do. I do my best not to, and it’s definitely not my immediate “go-to” anymore, but sometimes it still happens. And when it does, I actually recoil myself and take a minute to pause, breathe, and reframe whatever is going on in my head – which is usually a story (hint: It’s always a story), as in:

That person doesn’t like me.
I’m not good enough.
There isn’t enough to go around.
They’re stealing my share.

Actually, I had a conversation a long time ago with someone who told me that somebody famous had “stolen her story,” which to her was her identity. In truth, it was both of their identities in some way, but because the famous person had said it first on an international stage, this person in front of me was convinced that she could never share her story, because there wasn’t room for her anymore. How sad.

That one conversation has stayed with me for years. I imagine it will stay with me forever. Why? Because it’s a tangible example of what happens when we live a life from a place of lack and fear, instead of a place of abundance and possibility. No two stories are exactly the same, however similar they may sound. The main difference is that no two people would share their stories in exactly the same way, which is what makes each person on the planet unique: their voice. It’s when you think otherwise that you leave room for resentment and envy to plant seeds.

Which brings me back to my original statement: Sour grapes make bad wine. 

When we approach someone else’s success or uniqueness with envy, resentment, frustration, or even anger, we are turning ourselves into sour grapes. And nobody likes that. Furthermore, when sour grapes are added into the barrel of life, they taint the wine, and nobody likes that. Eventually what happens is people start to exclude us, because they simply don’t want to be around something so bitter.

The flip side is also true, and for me it’s what I focus on. If someone is going to unfriend, unfollow, or even talk badly about me or my work – I can now choose to happily let them go, because I don’t want their sour grapes tainting my delicious barrel of wine. While the initial realization may sting a bit (again, we’re all human, and it obviously takes effort to unfollow someone), the truth is the best the balm I could ever imagine. And then I can find gratitude that they have removed themselves and self-identified as someone that doesn’t blend well with what I’m offering.

Or, to put it another way, as my friend Jen Pastiloff says: Instead of getting caught up in who doesn’t like you, get caught up in who does. 

Ahh… what sweet wine that is!

Failure’s Message

Well, I failed my Theosophy exam. I just found out last week, and I was bummed when I opened the email. After 8 months of reading, thinking and reflecting on the materials introduced in the course (and passing every quiz along the way with flying colors!) I was stunned with my final result.

After my initial disappointment, however, I decided to reach out to the course instructor and ask how I had failed. Was it the exam? The coursework over the months? What was the deciding factor? Since he had mentioned it could be a either or a combination of the two in his final email, I thought it needed some investigation.

As it turns out, I was one question off from passing. That’s not to say that I was close to 100% – far from it. I needed a passing score of 75% (or 40 correct), and I achieved just under that. I got 39 out of 53 questions correct.

The instructor considered passing me, he said, but then he reviewed which questions I got wrong and decided to hold the standard. Rightly so. As it turns out the example he gave me of a question I got wrong was glaring. It went against the core teachings of the tradition. And he said there were a few other examples that were similar, therefore showing that I failed to grasp the basic tenets of Theosophy, even if I understood some of the more nuanced pieces.

I have to admit I was shocked. Firstly, I knew the correct answer to that question, so I have no idea why I chose something else. Secondly, I passed the quizzes with 95-100% accuracy, so how could it all go so wrong?

Once my nervous system settled down a bit, I wrote him back and thanked him for upholding the standard (I agreed with that decision), and explained how I can only attribute the wrong answer to user error while taking the exam itself, because I had given the correct answer previously on a quiz, and I also knew it. I haven’t heard back from him, and don’t know if I will. And that’s ok. Because after a few more breaths, I realized something very important:

My failure was a message.

You see, I’ve had a lot on my plate this year and I haven’t always been giving things my undivided attention. Everything from physical health to spiritual health has been somewhat half-assed, just to get through. I approached my exam the same way. I put it off until the last possible weekend in which I could take it and set aside the three hours needed to complete it. But, I wasn’t free from distractions, nor was I 100% focused on the task itself. I knew it when I sat down, but the exam had become something to cross off a list, so I did.

Looking back, I can see that this has become a pattern of sorts in my life. I have been moving through things to get to the place of “being done,” rather than moving through things and being present as I went. In other words, I have been running part-time on auto-pilot, while not actually fueling my vehicle appropriately, or consulting my navigation.

In my coaching practice, I teach my clients the importance of “book-ending” their healthy solutions. It’s a tool that makes everything that much more powerful and successful. As it turns out, I have been bookending my life in the unhealthy way with a combination of distraction and pushing, to simply “get through,” which made it that much more pronounced when I tried to just get something done, and failed.

I’m glad I failed. I don’t see it as a loss, even though I paid for the course. In fact, I still have the knowledge I gained, I just don’t have the piece of paper that reflects that. And that’s ok, because it shouldn’t be about the paper. (Well, not always.) Many times, it needs to be about the process and the intangibles that are learned along the way. And while I learned many other intangibles throughout the past year (which I’m sure I’ll write about later), it was the final intangible of failure that put the past 12 months into perspective. What a gift! Because as I go into 2018, I can now be more aware of how I wish to show up in everything I do, and I can make deliberate choices from a place of empowered knowing, rather than just pushing through.

 

 

Frequency 101: What it is, Why it’s important, and How to work with it

I am incredibly fortunate in my friendships and relationships with other like-minded people on similar journeys. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quotes by Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.”

Recently, I had a wonderful conversation with one such person in my life, and I was so grateful after we hung up that I asked her to write a piece for InspireBytes™ reiterating what we had discussed and what she had shared with me from her experience, study and wisdom. It’s about the importance of frequency and how we can work with it to create positive change in our lives. With the new year upon us and a seemingly overwhelming desire to make changes, this might be a really helpful way to look at things.

Franny says it so well, and I’m glad she agreed to share it here so that the rest of you can benefit from her words. Everything is energy. Everything is frequency, and yes… we get to choose how to work with it and therefore change our own. Pretty cool stuff!

Frequency… what is it really? And, more importantly, how can we work with it to our benefit?

When you hear the word “FREQUENCY” what does it conjure up in your mind? And how could exploring frequency support us in our path to having the greatest potential of sound Body, Mind, and Spirit?

The definition of Frequency that I am referring to (from Webster’s online) is as follows: “The rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave, either in a material (as in sound waves), or in an electromagnetic field (as in radio waves and light), usually measured per second.”

But why is it important to cultivate the highest frequency within our essence as we can?

We are innately the “Light of the Divine,” and we all hold this spark of light within us. This spark of the Divine is often referred to as our “Core Star.” The Core Star has its own High Frequency that is Pure. This purity has no trauma, distortions, or low vibrations within it, unlike our physical body which can hold trauma, illness, congestion as lower vibrations. When we tap into our Core Star and begin to elevate and expand that frequency throughout our physical and energy body, we have the potential to regain health, wellness and radiant joy in body, mind, and spirit. The applications for our own and our planetary well-being are infinite. Therefore, it is important to cultivate and expand our Core Essence.

To practice accessing and working with this Divine Spark, allow yourself to sit in a quiet place – maybe outside leaning up against a tree, or sitting at the ocean listening to the waves crash, or maybe in your favorite chair at home. Scan your body from head to toe with your mind’s eye and ask where your currently “feel, experience or sense” your Divine Spark. Once you have located it, breathe into the center of the spark and allow it to expand in your body.  Because this Core Star is a High Frequency, it can clear lower congested frequencies.

Practice this daily to invite Divine Light into every cell of your body, clearing/healing and balancing all aspects of your “self.”  Being consciously aware and choosing to bring your awareness to your frequency and raising it is a powerful tool. – Franny Harcey, Co-Founder of the Awakening Healing Academy

To learn more about Franny, her colleagues, and their offerings, check out their website at  www.awakeninghealingacademy.com

Happy Accidents

Accidents happen, and rarely do we call them “happy.” Then something comes along to change that and suddenly they become ‘Happy Accidents.’ But we never know they’re actually “happy” until after the fact. 

This is a simple truth about a lot of life. Hindsight is the tool that allows us to take perspective and choose new adjectives, right?

Earlier today I tried to trim my own (long, overgrown and frustrating) bangs. But I ended up taking off a lot more than I had planned (because I’m not a hairstylist – duh). I thought it would be simple, and it wasn’t. My “trim” resulted in weird blunt wonky pieces of hair draped in front of my eyes. 

Somewhat laughing, I called my hairdresser, but she was too busy. However, she referred me to someone else she works with who had some time available today, and… voila! My blunder became a ‘happy accident’ in the form of a totally new hairstyle that I love.
I love when something unplanned (and potentially frustrating) turns into something unexpectedly awesome, don’t you? It happens more than we realize or acknowledge though. Unfortunately, we are a bit too programmed to focus on the “bad” or frustrating bit, rather than enjoying the positive change. I see it daily… people seem to be more and more hard-wired to complain, than they are to celebrate or enjoy. It’s almost as if we’re not allowed to truly be happy with our lives. 

Hindsight gives us a choice, though. It allows us to look back and change the adjective, and thereby change the experience. People say we can’t change the past, but that’s not entirely true. Because we can change how we feel about the past, which, in essence, changes it in our memories. It’s a superpower too few people are exercising. 

Now, to be clear, this is not about denying an event or creating revisionist history. Facts are facts. But how we feel about the facts can be updated. It can be modified through a shift in perspective, turning something frustrating or difficult into something neutral, or even positive. 

It’s not always easy, mind you. Sometimes it takes a fair amount of work, but the guarantee is that it’s always worth it. Why? Because low vibration emotions take a lot more energy than high-vibration, or even neutral, memories. Shifting perspective and attributing new feelings to something that has already happened frees up the emotional, mental, and energetic space inside you that had been given over to maintaining the complaint. And that, is a very happy accident, indeed. 

Make Time – Take Time

It’s December 4th, and I am already witnessing the stressors of the holiday season begin to show up. Upon running a few simple errands today I saw both frustrated and happy shoppers. Some were smiling as they completed the tasks they set out to achieve, while others were grumbling as they pushed their carts through the aisles.

Is attitude a choice?

We’ve been taught over and over again by leading authors and “gurus” that we can choose a positive attitude throughout our life. And while that may be true, it’s also rather dismissive, isn’t it? (Personally, I’ve never appreciated someone telling me to adopt an “attitude of gratitude” or a “positive mental outlook” when I’m in the midst of some stressor or another.)

So, while our mood may or may not be a choice, we definitely have power over how we choose to spend our time… which directly affects our mood.

This is where a favorite rhyming couplet comes into play:

Make Time – Take Time

Make Time to Take Time

When we make time to take time, we empower ourselves to take action that leads to a more peaceful presence. In other words, our mood becomes a byproduct of our actions and decisions.

But, what does this actually mean? If you’ve known me at all, you know that I like things to be both accessible and actionable. Making time to take time looks like this:

Carving out 15 minutes in the morning to sip your tea or coffee from a favorite mug, while listening to music, an audiobook or a podcast.

Setting aside 10 minutes a day before bed for private quiet time. It can be meditation, or a spa-like ritual of pampering your skin. (Lately, I’ve been focusing on my feet, and boy does that 10-minute massage feel good!)

Planning 15 minutes ahead of schedule when you have an event to go to, so that you arrive feeling relaxed and excited, rather than rushed and frazzled.

Choosing to sit down and eat your dinner at the table with nice plates and silverware, and savoring every bite, even if you’ve ordered in.

Ordering in! Even the best cooks need a break. Ordering in is a simple indulgence that allows you to reclaim at least 30 minutes that would have been spent cooking.

As you can see from the list, it’s all about being deliberate with our time. Our society has a tendency to glorify being “busy” – but there’s no trophy for feeling frazzled and stressed. Typically, there’s only exhaustion and frustration, and nobody likes that.

So, in order to shift your attitude from one of grumbling through the aisles to one of quiet joy in accomplishing your everyday tasks (including attending numerous holiday events), instead of choosing your mood it might be easier to choose how you spend your time. We do this by carving out little snippets of time in our day to create moments of pleasure, joy, or peace. It really does make all the difference.

 

 

Hurt People hurt people

There is an old adage: hurt people hurt people. I saw it time and again during my years in grad school, in case studies and in my internship. I’ve seen some variation of it in private practice either directly or indirectly.

People who are hurting seem to have a greater tendency to lash out and hurt others.

But does it have to be that way? Even though it seems to have been that way?

No.

In most cases, it’s a pattern or a behavior that can be changed with a simple, but necessary, intervention: listening.

Not just listening, but really listening.

What do I mean by that?

Well, if you think about the last time you got angry because you were hurting inside, what would have been the one thing that made the difference between calming you down or escalating your anger?

What if you felt heard? Truly heard.

What if the person in front of you paused and listened, not to respond, but to hear you? To hear what you weren’t saying (“I’m hurting”) and then listened to your story.

When we feel heard – truly heard – everything becomes just a little easier. 

It’s this acknowledgment (which is not the same as validation) from another human being that helps us take the edge off and remember who we really are inside.

We are not our reactive emotions – our hurt, our anger, or our fear. These things show up when we have wandered too far from our core. They’re there to protect us until we can find our way back (offense as defense).

So, while I could list at least ten stories right now of hurt people hurting people, I can also unequivocally say that when those people felt heard, their reactive desire to lash out diminished.

Perhaps with the impending holidays and upcoming family gatherings it might be a good time to remember another adage:

Listen twice as much as you speak – that’s why you have two ears and only one mouth.

Actually, I think that’s good advice, no matter what time of year. 😉

Falling Flat – Bad Hair Days Needn’t Be

We’ve all been there. Having moments in our life when things just don’t seem to be doing much of anything, or at least, they’re not doing what we had expected or attempted. They fell flat.

In many ways, it’s like having a bad hair day. I remember once, a long time ago, my boss told me that he and his wife experienced he occasional “bad marriage days.”

“Bad marriage day? … What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s like a bad hair day, but for your marriage. It happens. And no matter what you do, it just doesn’t get better. So, you have a choice: put on a hat and keep going, or sit and fuss and fuss and fuss trying to fix something that may be intangible. It just is.”

I’m paraphrasing of course, but I do remember him saying the thing about the hat.

The thing is, life is imperfect. It’s meant to be. The imperfections are where the growth, opportunity, and possibility reside. It’s not meant to be ‘happy-happy joy-joy’ all the time. If it were, we’d probably lose some of our ability to appreciate joy. Sometimes, life is just… well, flat.

The question is: do you choose to continually fuss over it? Or do you grab the nearest baseball cap and get on with it, remembering the more important truth: life is always (always) changing. And tomorrow is a new day.

[Hmm… maybe this is why I have always had such an extensive collection of hats!]

#metoo … but “boys will be boys,” right?! Wrong.

I’m frustrated… as you can see by something I just shared on FB. Why would anyone think it’s ok to throw things at animals, let alone goad them into coming closer?!? I know if you ask *most* humans, they would find this behavior wrong and even alarming.

It’s this type of behavior, where many might say “boys will be boys” in response. But what if it’s EXACTLY this behavior that later leads to assault. I don’t see a difference in assaulting a defenseless animal at 8, and assaulting a woman years later. Maybe, in fact, they’re inextricably linked.

Maybe if we didn’t allow this behavior in our “boys” we wouldn’t have an epidemic of it in our men. Maybe if we held our kids accountable for their actions and instilled in them a sense of compassion, respect, and kindness, we could turn this thing around in a single generation. Maybe. I did my part today. I held them accountable. I hope it redirects their ship. It takes a village… together, we can change this.

#metoo #boyswillbeboys #nolonger #accountability #responsibility #respect #compassion #kindness #change #inspired #writerslife

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

I can’t sleep.

It’s 5:03am as I type these words on the only light in my room – my laptop. The moon is really high in the sky, but no longer shining into my window as it was doing only two hours ago.

I originally woke at 3:14am. This has become something of a norm for me in recent years. I wish it weren’t the case. I know it’s the “spirit hour” or the time when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, and therefore a time for easy connection with the other side, but I don’t struggle with that. So, I’ve never really understood why I wake so regularly around this hour.

My friend, José Stevens, once told me that I needed to put my foot down and tell Spirit that they are not to disturb me as I sleep, and I did that for a while. It worked. Then it stopped working. I thought it was because I always seemed to have to go to the bathroom, so I stopped drinking things after 9pm to prevent that issue. I still woke up.

I still wake up.

Behavior modification takes time. And while I think it would be easy to say that this is the “spirit hour,” that I am well-connected with the Universe, so it makes sense that I’m awake… I also think it’s habit. By now, my body has physiologically formed a habit around waking up between 3am and 4am. And sometimes it’s that simple.

Working in the intuitive realm, I often find that we want to attribute everything to a spiritual cause. And while much of the time it may be true, we can’t forget that we are also human. And human has its own set of rules and behaviors, one of which is habit.

It would be very easy for me to align with the “spirit hour” theory, simply because I work in it and it makes sense. But I would be doing myself a disservice to not also consider that my body has created a habit around waking up. Here’s why:

If I am waking because of the “spirit hour” it’s outside of my control, and I am out of my power. I’m not standing in my boots. If I am waking because of a physiological habit that I have created over time, then it’s within my control to change it. I am back in my power.

For that reason alone, I am reminded of how important it is to keep balance between the human and divine. To remember that I am not “either/or” but “both/and” at all times. The power lies in embracing this truth and working with it across every aspect of my life.

xoxo,
Martina

P.S. I will say though, that tonight it was rather nice to be up, because the clear pre-winter sky put on quite a show. Simple blessings.